A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1953.

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'Treyford', in A History of the County of Sussex: Volume 4, the Rape of Chichester, (London, 1953) pp. 30-32. British History Online [accessed 4 March 2024]

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Treyford is a long, narrow parish, 3¼ miles from north to south with an average width of 2/3 mile, containing 1,273 acres. The south part, called Phillis Wood and Phillis Down on the South Downs, is woodland and heath. From a row of tumuli called the Devil's Jumps (fn. 1) on Phillis Down, the land falls abruptly from over 700 ft. to the small village, which is about 200 ft. above sea-level. The old church, now in ruins, is near the manor farm; the new church which replaced it was itself demolished in 1951; it stood about ¼ mile north towards Elsted; the church at Elsted now serves the united parishes. By West Sussex Review Order (1933) the parish of Didling was added to Treyford.

There was a mill at Treyford in 1086 and tithes of the mill are mentioned in 1341 (fn. 2) and a water-mill in 1517. (fn. 3) This mill probably stood upon a small stream which passes through the parish, and forms the northern boundary.

The Manor House, next to the ruined church, is a building of striking and unusual appearance for rural Sussex. The main block, facing north-west, consists of two tall stories and attics and dates from 1660–80, or was so much altered at that period as to have lost its identity as an early Jacobean house. A low wing or outbuilding adjoining the north-east end of it has an external stone inscribed 1621 W.A. (William Aylwin) and the main block, which bears no inscription, has been attributed by some authorities to the same date. The front wall is of coursed ashlar stonework with angles of 17th-century bricks. The plinth, which has a moulded top course of brick, is of flint rubble and may be a survival of the earlier period. The elevation is very symmetrical, with a middle entrance and window over and two windows on each side of it. The dressings to these are of very fine-jointed rubbed brickwork. The doorway is flanked by pilasters, with moulded bases and caps, carried up high enough to allow a head light above the door; they carry a moulded curved pediment. The window above it has a moulded eared architrave flanked by voluted consoles. The other windows, tall and narrow, are more simply treated; each is flanked by flat pilasters, with beaded internal edges, that rise from the plinth to the eaves course. The openings have flat gauged arches and moulded drip-courses and the upper lights have moulded sills between the pilasters. All have sash frames. The eaves has a moulded brick course and plastered coving. The roof is tiled and has two gabled dormers. The ends are gabled and have plain chimneystacks. The north-east wall is of similar material and has blocked windows to the first floor and open plain windows to the second. The lower story of the south-west end is cemented and the upper tile-hung. The back wall is of squared stone rubble with 17th-century brick angles.

The plan has a central and staircase hall with rooms on either side of it. The staircase, reaching to the second floor, is of the late 17th century; it has thin turned balusters alternating with twisted balusters, and moulded hand-rails: the ends of the steps have shaped brackets. The north-east front room is lined with bolection-moulded panelling.

An earlier dove-cot, south of the house, is built of stone rubble with ashlar angles. It has two gables and a tiled roof. The doorway has a four-centred head.

A thatched cottage a little way to the east-south-east is built of squared stone rubble on flint foundations and has 17th-century and later brick angles and other dressings. A stone above the doorway is inscribed A/RM; 1638. The two lower windows of the front have dripstones above them. The western, of three lights, preserves its mullions, but the mullion of the eastern, of two lights, has been removed. The upper windows are modern. Above the south-west gable-head is a plain chimney-stack.

Another smaller thatched cottage, north-east of it, is of ashlar stonework with early-18th-century brick angles and segmental-headed windows. A central chimneystack may be earlier.


TREYFORD was held in the time of Edward the Confessor by Ælard of Earl Godwin. In 1086 Robert, son of Tetbald of Petworth, Sheriff of the Rape of Arundel, held it of Earl Roger. It was assessed for 11 hides. The abbey of St. Peter of Winchester, or Hyde, (fn. 4) claimed the manor, and the hundred court testified that he who held it of the abbot, held it only for his life. Two hides in the manor belonged to a prebend of the church of Chichester. Offa had held these two hides of the bishop in the time of King Edward, and in 1086 Robert (fn. 5) held them of the bishop. (fn. 6)

Treyford did not become, with Robert's other lands, part of the honor of Petworth. It passed to the family of Vilers, who held it of the Earl of Arundel. Pain de Vilers, the first holder of the manor, probably the Pain who was living at the date of the Lindsey Survey (1115–18), (fn. 7) gave it to his son Alan. (fn. 8) About 1150 Alan gave to the monks of Lewes 5s. from Treyford. (fn. 9) In 1166 one fee in Treyford was held of the honor of Arundel; (fn. 10) the tenant's name is not given. Robert de Vilers made an agreement with the Bishop of Chichester in 1194 whereby Robert gave to the church of Holy Trinity, Chichester, 5 acres of land in Treyford. (fn. 11) Robert, who was seneschal of the Earl of Arundel, was in the king's service in Sussex in 1208 (fn. 12) and in 1212 he was owner of Treyford manor. (fn. 13) He died about 1223. (fn. 14) It was probably his son Robert who was slain by two thieves near Hastings in 1237. (fn. 15) His land at Treyford was mortgaged for payment of a debt to the Jews in 1235 (fn. 16) and it was probably on this account that Treyford was held in 1242–3 by Master Alexander le Seculer. (fn. 17) Robert son of Robert de Vilers held two fees in Cudlow and Treyford which were assigned as part of John Fitz Alan's share of the honor of Arundel in 1244, (fn. 18) and in 1256 Robert obtained a grant of free warren at Treyford. (fn. 19) He was accused of appropriating a new warren at Treyford in 1274. (fn. 20) Four years later Robert settled the manor upon himself for life with remainder to his son Nicholas de Vilers, with contingent remainders to John, William, and Richard, brothers of Nicholas, in tail. Robert son of Robert de Vilers opposed his claim. (fn. 21) Nicholas settled the manor in 1315 upon his son Nicholas and Joan his wife. (fn. 22) Nicholas the son was probably in possession of the manor in 1327, (fn. 23) and he obtained in 1336 a confirmation of the grant of free warren made to Robert de Vilers. (fn. 24) In 1344 Nicholas complained that Sir Thomas Camoys and others broke into his park at Treyford. (fn. 25) He probably died soon after, for in 1347 his sons Robert and William conveyed the manor for 100 marks to Richard, Earl of Arundel. (fn. 26) Their sister Joan also released her claim in the manor to the earl. This conveyance was made ignoring the entail set up in 1278, and in 1385 John de Berwick son of Joan successfully claimed the manor against the Earl of Arundel. The jury awarded the manor to John for his life, with reversion, if he died without heirs, to the earl. (fn. 27) John died before 1417 and in that year his widow Maud who had married Philip de Egerton claimed a third of the manor against Hugh Punchardon, who had somehow acquired a life interest in the manor. (fn. 28) Hugh was still holding the manor in 1423, when the trustees of Thomas, late Earl of Arundel, obtained licence from the king to grant the reversion after Hugh's death to the hospital at Arundel which they had been charged by the earl to found. (fn. 29) The hospital was in possession of the manor by 1428, (fn. 30) and it remained in possession until the Dissolution.

The manor was granted by Henry VIII in 1546 to Sir Richard Lee. (fn. 31) He obtained licence in February 1547 to grant the manor to Richard Chatfyld, (fn. 32) but apparently did not do so, as in August of the same year he obtained another licence to sell it to Henry, Earl of Arundel, (fn. 33) the conveyance being made in Michaelmas term of that year. (fn. 34) The earl and John, Lord Lumley, who had married his daughter Joan, (fn. 35) sold the manor in 1571 to William Aylwin (fn. 36) second son of John Aylwin of Canons in West Dean. (fn. 37) In 1584 the manor was settled on Katherine wife of William Aylwin, and upon his sons John, William, or Robert in tail male. William, the son, died in 1585 and John in 1588 both without male issue, and on the death of William Aylwin the father in 1592, Treyford manor passed to Robert. (fn. 38) Robert died seised of the manor in 1607, his son William being then 13 years of age. (fn. 39) William obtained livery of the manor in 1619. (fn. 40)

Robert son of William Aylwin succeeded before 1678 and settled the manor in 1688 upon himself for life with remainder to trustees to raise £200 for William Aylwin of Woolbeding, his nephew. (fn. 41) Robert apparently died before 1689 for in October of that year William made an agreement with another uncle, Richard Aylwin of Iping, by which William was to hold the manor in fee tail, paying annuities from it to Richard and his wife Magdalen. (fn. 42) William and his wife Joan cut the entail in 1706. (fn. 43) William was still lord of the manor in 1711, (fn. 44) but had been succeeded before 1724 by Robert Aylwin, who died in 1736 and left Treyford manor to his eldest son William, who died in the following year, when the manor passed to Robert, second son of Robert. This Robert died in 1740 having two sisters Mary and Elizabeth. (fn. 45) Mary married Charles Talbot, and Elizabeth married Sir William Mannock, bart., and each had half the manor. After Mary's death Charles and Elizabeth sold the whole in 1766 to James Peachey. (fn. 46) From him it passed by will to his nephew Sir James Peachey, bart., (fn. 47) who was created Lord Selsey in 1794 and died in 1808. (fn. 48) His grandson Henry John, third Lord Selsey, dying without issue in 1838, the manor passed to his only sister Mrs. H. Vernon Harcourt. (fn. 49) At her death in 1871 the manor passed to the Marquess of Clanricard. (fn. 50) It was acquired by Frederick Bower, who was lord of the manor between 1881 and 1891, as was William Dodge James of West Dean in 1895. (fn. 51)

Aylwin. Argent a fesse nebuly gules between three lions sable.


The modern church of ST. PETER, demolished in 1951, consisted of chancel (with a small heating chamber in the form of a crypt under it) flanked by organ chamber and vestry, clearstoried nave, north and south aisles, south porch, and tower with stone broach spire west of the north aisle; it was built of stone with tiled roofs and dated from 1849; (fn. 52) the tower being apparently later. The whole of the fittings, including the font, were modern.

The ruin of the former church of ST. MARY (fn. 53) stands on a mound south-west of the Manor House. It consists of a chancel and nave of the 13th century; to this a north transeptal chapel seems to have been added in the 14th century, later destroyed. A north porch is shown in the drawing (1805) in the Sharpe collection, but has since disappeared. It is built of the local malm rock with ashlar dressings; part of the external plaster survives; the 19th-century repairs are partly in brick.


In the east wall of the chancel are three lancet windows, of which the middle one is both higher and wider than the others; all have exterior rebates and concentric splays, remains exist on these of lozenge-patterned painting in brown. The ancient altar slab, of Sussex marble, is now broken. In the north wall is a wall locker, with no rebate or trace of door; there is a similar locker, with a damaged piscina just west of it, in the south wall. On each side of the chancel are two 13th-century lancet windows similar to those in the east wall, and on the south wall is a consecration cross in black; a moulded string-course runs round all three sides. There is the foundation of a solid screen wall between the chancel and nave, but the chancel arch has completely disappeared.

The south wall of the nave was entirely rebuilt in modern times; it had two windows with square jambs in brick, the pointed arch of the western of these survives. In the north wall are the responds of an arch formerly opening into the transeptal chapel; these are semicircular on plan with moulded capitals of bell form without separate abacus (the bases are invisible); the spring of an arch of two chamfered orders also survives; this work is of the 14th or 15th century. (fn. 54) The arch was closed in about the 16th century by building a wall outside it; in this wall are the jambs of a window of perhaps two narrow lights. West of the arch there is visible on the inside the blocked semicircular arch of a 12th-century doorway, the western jamb of which is also visible outside. The north door has a round arch of one chamfered order with no imposts to the jambs, it is either 12th-century work re-used or early 13th. West of this is a single 13th-century lancet window with exterior rebates, the outer arch is pointed but the head of the splay is round. In the west wall is a larger 13th-century lancet window, also with exterior rebates, with concentric splay. On each side of it is a consecration cross in red. Remains of a stone bench exist against the ancient walls of chancel and nave. The roof, and all fittings, have completely disappeared.

The existing registers of Treyford with Didling begin in 1728; the bishop's transcripts of marriages from 1630 to 1745 have been copied by W. H. Challen.


The advowson descended with the manor. The living was united with Elsted in 1485, (fn. 55) the master of the almshouse at Arundel to have every alternate presentation; but apparently this arrangement was dissolved in 1500 when a separate parson was admitted to Treyford, (fn. 56) and from that time till the Dissolution the master of the almshouse presented regularly. (fn. 57) Before 1580 Treyford had become annexed to Didling (fn. 58) and this arrangement apparently endured (fn. 59) until both were annexed to Elsted, the three parishes being now a rectory in the gift of the Bishop of Chichester.


  • 1. Ibid. lxxv, 223.
  • 2. Inq. Non. (Rec. Com.), 360.
  • 3. Feet of F. Suss. Hil. 13 Eliz.
  • 4. There is no other trace of the manor having been given to Hyde, unless possibly it is the 'Wrefordi' where one hide is said by the inaccurate Rudborne to have been given by King Ethelred and taken away by William the Conqueror: V.C.H. Hants, i, 416.
  • 5. This may have been Robert Anslevill, who exchanged 2 hides in Treyford to Ralph, Bishop of Chichester (1091–1123): Suss. Rec. Soc. xlvi, no. 980.
  • 6. V.C.H. Suss. i, 422.
  • 7. Farrar, Honors and Knights' Fees, iii, 52.
  • 8. Bk. of Fees, 207.
  • 9. Lewes Chartulary (Suss. Rec. Soc.), ii, 78.
  • 10. Red Book of Exch. (Rolls Ser.), 201.
  • 11. Curia Regis R. i, 12, 13.
  • 12. Farrer, loc. cit.
  • 13. Bk. of Fees, 207.
  • 14. Exc. e Rot. Fin. i, 105.
  • 15. Cal. Close, 1234–7, p. 453.
  • 16. Ibid. 217.
  • 17. Bk. of Fees, 689.
  • 18. Cal. Close, 1242–7, p. 250.
  • 19. Cal. Chart. R. i, 453.
  • 20. Rot. Hundr. (Rec. Com.), ii, 213.
  • 21. Suss. Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. vii), 894.
  • 22. Ibid. xxiii, 1436.
  • 23. Index to Plac. de Banco, p. 674.
  • 24. Cal. Chart. R. iv, 353.
  • 25. Cal. Pat. 1343–5, p. 278.
  • 26. Suss. Fines (Suss. Rec. Soc. xxiii), 2054.
  • 27. Add. MS. 39375, fol. 40V, quoting De Banco Hil. 8 Rich. II, m. 358.
  • 28. Add. MS. 39375, fol. 192.
  • 29. Cal. Pat. 1422–9, p. 115.
  • 30. Feud. Aids, v, 156.
  • 31. L. and P. Hen. VIII, xxi (i), 1166 (15).
  • 32. Cal. Pat. 1547–8, p. 229.
  • 33. Ibid. p. 213.
  • 34. Feet of F. Suss. Mich. 1 Edw. VI.
  • 35. G.E.C. Complete Peerage (2nd ed.), i, 253.
  • 36. Feet of F. Suss. Hil. 13 Eliz.
  • 37. Berry, Suss. Gen. 167.
  • 38. Chan. Inq. p.m. (Ser. 2), ccxxxii, no. 39.
  • 39. Ibid. ccxcv, 75.
  • 40. Fine R. 7 Jas. I, pt. ii, no. 14.
  • 41. Add. MS. 5690, fol. 258.
  • 42. Ibid.
  • 43. Ibid.
  • 44. Ibid.
  • 45. Ibid. fol. 258, 259.
  • 46. Add. MS. 39503, fol. 154.
  • 47. Ibid.
  • 48. G.E.C. Complete Peerage, vii, 109.
  • 49. Lower, Hist. of Suss. ii, 207.
  • 50. Elwes, Manor Houses of West Suss. 242.
  • 51. Kelly, Direct. of Suss.
  • 52. Add. MS. 39364, fol. 296, quoting Builder of 24 Nov. 1849. The old church was closed in that year.
  • 53. Add. MS. 39366, fol. 136 v. Already in 1677 the walls of the chancel were cracked through the failure of the foundations; the roof let in the wet; the glass was broken and the windows boarded up, 'which is undescent unseemely and dungeonlike': Add. MS. 39433, fol. 25 v.
  • 54. The tooling is distinctly different from that of the 13th-century work.
  • 55. Add. MS. 93404 B.
  • 56. Ibid.
  • 57. Ibid.
  • 58. Add. MS. 39406 A.
  • 59. Add. MS. 5690, fol. 258.